LA Times has named our Caleb Prior, Ansel Elgort, one of faces to watch in 2014.
Ansel Elgort | Actor
Before Ansel Elgort was cast in two of next year’s most highly anticipated movies, he had 900 followers on Instagram. Now — just months after shooting the dystopian action flick “Divergent” and the cancer love story “The Fault in Our Stars” — he’s up to more than 117,000.
Both films are adaptations of bestselling young-adult novels, and if fans of the books turn up at theaters in droves, Elgort is primed to become the next big teen heartthrob. In a way, though, the 19-year-old has been readying himself for the spotlight for years. Growing up in Manhattan, he performed the Nutcracker with the New York City Ballet and attended LaGuardia High School — the performing arts school that 1980’s “Fame” was based on. His parents were also in the arts: His mother is opera director Grethe Holby and his father, Arthur Elgort, shot photographs for Vogue.
Did your parents’ professions influence your decision to be an actor?
It was monumental that they were in the arts. My dad was always taking photos of us at home, and even on set — he’d bring us along and stick us in the photos in the background. It was almost the beginning of acting for me, like, “Hey, you go over there and play basketball in the background, and don’t even think about the camera.”
In “Divergent,” you play the brother of Shailene Woodley’s character. In “The Fault in Our Stars,” you’re her lover. Have you two become really close?
I think she had a lot to do with me getting the part in “Fault.” We were actually in the middle of “Divergent” when I auditioned, and she already had the part. So after our chemistry read, we were back on the “Divergent” set and she actually said, “Ansel, your audition was the best.” And she sort of lobbied for me, I think.
Once you got the part, what kind of research did you do to play a cancer patient?
What I wanted to know is what my character would have heard from the doctors — what it would have been like to lose a leg, or how to make a decision to travel somewhere for treatment. We also had a lot of kids on set who were real cancer survivors, and they were so excited and nice. No one was like, “You don’t really have cancer.” There were no hard feelings.
How do you think you’ll handle the attention that might be coming your way in the next few months?
I live in Brooklyn, and I’m going to do everything in my power to remain normal and keep my life as it is. I like to go to the rock climbing wall. And I do this thing called Warhammer, where I paint miniature [figurines]. They’re like a very small army of soldiers that you use in a game. Kind of like in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” I also produce house music and DJ under the name Ansolo.
How do you get into clubs to DJ if you’re underage?
You can DJ at 18 in clubs. I’ve DJed at [the nightclub] Pacha, and they walk me over to the booth, and at the end of the night, they just escort me out.